Multiple agencies have combined efforts in the search for David Gordon Johnson, whose motorcycle and belongings were found near the Mokelumne River at Big Bar River Access in Mokelumne Hill. The Automobile Magazine journalist has been missing since June 5.



Crews from multiple agencies are continuing their search along the Mokelumne River for a Sacramento County automotive journalist who went missing on June 5.

“We do not have an end date for the search. We are going to exhaust our search efforts,” Lt. Anthony Eberhardt with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office told the Enterprise on June 11.

“With all evidence pointing towards [David Gordon Johnson] having gone into the Mokelumne River for unknown reasons and with no evidence of foul play, search efforts have continued in the subsequent days along the river’s edge, within the Mokelumne River and Pardee Reservoir below the Middle Bar Bridge,” a sheriff’s office news release stated on June 12.

In total, over 225 miles of area have been covered, not including air coverage, according to Eberhardt.

Johnson, 44, was last heard from on the morning of June 5 while on a long-distance motorcycle ride through Sonora Pass, according to an article written by his colleagues at Automobile Magazine.

Johnson was reported missing by his fiancee later that day.

“We’re hoping for his safe return,” staff at Automobile Magazine wrote.

A search was initiated by the sheriff’s office on June 7. Johnson’s Honda CB1000R motorcycle was found parked at Big Bar River Access near Mokelumne Hill with the key in the ignition and gloves and helmet placed on the seat.

On June 8, a large-scale search of the area was initiated, utilizing boats, ground search teams, a California Highway Patrol helicopter and a drone.

Ground searchers located some of Johnson’s personal items, including a cellphone, laptop, backpack and clothing, near a “swiftly moving” segment of the river, according to Eberhardt. A tracking dog followed the scent trail from the clothing, which “seemed to lead towards the river.”

The following day, efforts intensified with multiple agencies joining in the search. Additional items belonging to Johnson were found in a small feeder stream near the area where the other items were discovered, including motorcycle riding pants, a wallet and camera. A dog was again utilized, and the scent appeared to lead toward the river.

According to Eberhardt, Johnson sent a selfie to a friend prior to his disappearance that was confirmed to be taken at the same location.

The river is currently running high and traveling at speeds of approximately 35 mph, Eberhardt said.

Johnson’s coworkers describe him as 5-feet, 10-inches tall, weighing about 200 pounds, with salt-and-pepper hair and beard.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office at (209) 754-6500.

6/12/19: This article was updated to include additional information issued by the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office. 


Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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